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View of Forest Sustainability

Some think we talk too much about wood.  Well, they would be correct!  It is true that wood is one of our favorite natural resources.  Owning a real wood floor brings the warmth and coziness of nature into your home. As with all natural resources there comes a responsibility to use them wisely.  Sustaining our forestlands is fundamental to maintaining the health of our citizens and our land.

Trees have provided an essential resource for energy, construction, shelter, and written communication (as in paper). This valuable resource requires protection and proper management.  Forest conservation is not a new phenomenon and was practiced as far back as the Roman Empire.

At specific points in history, conservation management was not a priority and the resulting deforestation seriously depleted some of the ancient old growth stands. Longleaf pine is an example of this in the southeast US. Prior to the efforts of America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI), a program developed in 2009 to bring Federal resources to bear to recover longleaf pine (Pinus palustris L.) across its former range, it was only available as reclaimed lumber.  Thanks to focused management this species now covers 4.3 million acres and continues to grow with ongoing planting efforts.

Conditions have changed across the landscape with many organizations and initiatives resulting in better management processes.

The Forest Stewardship Council developed this video showing the importance of everyone doing their part to enjoy and prolong our amazing natural forest products and resources.

Here are some little-known forest facts:

  • Forests cover 30% of global land area and 36% of the US.
  • 70% of terrestrial animals and plants live in forests
  • Currently the world’s forests store 283 billion tons of carbon in their biomass
  • About 40% of the oxygen produced on earth are from forests
  • 20% of fresh water in the US originates from forestlands

“1.6 billion people depend on forests worldwide for their livelihoods for food, clothing, or shelter.”

There are an estimated 10.6 million family forest and woodland ownerships. They control more than any other group. Family Forests, 38%. Corporate, 20%. Federal Government, 31%. State, 9%. Local, 2%. https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/private-land

More private forests than public forests

More private forests than public

Most US forestland is privately owned. Landowners must manage and earn a living from these forests, or they will inevitably turn them into farms, ranches, or real estate development. While total acreage of forests in the US remains relatively stable, other areas are seeing declining forest coverage due to fires, real estate development, and over forestation. For example, the US Forest Service estimates 12 million acres of forest in the Southeast will be lost to suburban real estate development between 1992 – 2020. (https://us.fsc.org/en-us/what-we-do/why-forests-matter)

Forest managers seek a balanced approach for forest sustainability considering:

  • Healthy ecosystems and healthy trees
  • Reforestation and replanting
  • Forest Management and removal
  • Fire Prevention clearing underbrush
  • Preserving wildlife and endangered species
  • Promoting Products made from wood
  • Jobs and economics of the forest industry

For more information on how the wood flooring industry is involved in sustainability, check out NWFA’s Responsible Procurement Program.

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